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NFL Scouting Combine 2023: WRs state their cases at the microphone

Let’s see what some of the top receivers in the 2023 draft class had to say on Friday

NFL: MAR 03 Scouting Combine
Zay Flowers
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wide receivers hit the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday to strut their stuff in front of NFL scouts. On Friday, they stepped to the microphones in the Indiana Convention Center to speak about their journeys.

Here are some of the things a handful of receivers who might be of interest to the Giants had to say.

Quentin Johnston: ‘I for sure see myself in that blue’

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Johnston is a player who might be available at No. 25 in Round 1. He would be a vertical threat and a nice complement to the smaller Wan’Dale Robinson.

Johnston said Friday that he can see that becoming reality.

“I met with them [the Giants] Wednesday, and I’m meeting with them again sometime soon,” he said. “It was a very welcoming staff, had good talks with them. I for sure see myself in that blue with them.”

Johnston is sometimes criticized as a body catcher of the ball rather than a pure hands catcher.

“I get that a lot, but it’s not because I don’t trust my hands. They’re only going off a few plays. If you look at the rest of my film it’s hand catching,” Johnston said. “They can say whatever they want to, but moving forward I’m going to try more to get out of that habit. I’m catching a couple hundred balls a day outside of my body. It’s not like I can’t catch. It’s something that’s a natural instinct. But I’m going to work as hard as I can to eliminate that part of my game as quickly as possible.”

Johnston is No. 13 on the NFL Mock Draft Database Consensus Big Board.

Zay Flowers: ‘Not just a slot’

Flowers has 13 siblings, which he said “kept me competitive, kept me on my toes, kept me spirited. They my biggest fans, my brothers and sisters, so I’m living the dream for all of us.”

At 5-foot-9 and change and 183 pounds, Flowers is often thought of as a slot receiver at the NFL level.

“I’m not just a slot,” Flowers said.”Seventy-five percent of my snaps was played outside. I think I could move around and play any position they put me at.”

Flowers said the NFL player he admires is Steve Smith Sr., who caught 1,031 passes during a 16-year career at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds.

“He was just a dog I’d say,” Flowers said. “He’d go up and get the ball versus anybody, he’d put his body on the line.”

Flowers is often mocked to the Giants. He said Friday he had not met with them at the Combine.

Jalin Hyatt: ‘I can run routes’

The Tennessee speedster knows the criticism that is leveled his way. The Volunteers ran a spread offense unlike anything at the NFL level that did not ask the receivers to run the types of routes that will be required.

“In Coach [Josh] Heupel’s offense, we spread it out and look for matchups we don’t run the regular pro-style offense that a lot of teams run obviously with league runs,” Hyatt said. “I can’t wait to show my routes. I can run routes. Being in Coach Heupel’s offense, you see a lot of vertical things, this-and-that but I can’t wait to prove what I can do other that going deep - what I can do underneath what I can do when I get the ball in my hand. I just can’t wait to showcase that.”

Hyatt said he had a “very good” formal meeting with the Giants.

AT Perry: ‘Little things matter’

The 6-foot-3⅜, 195-pounder is a craftsman.

“Throughout the week I watch the DBs and coverages and safeties. So, I’m in the game just calming myself down,” Perry said. “Reading the safeties, they really give away the coverage. And then I focus on the guy that’s over me. Just based on his leverage and off coverage to see if he can turn his hips and get in and out of breaks and stuff like that. I just kinda break it down that way.”

Perry was asked about sinking his hips when breaking off routes. He said he has consciously developed that ability.

“Honestly, I thought about it as wanting to do things that shorter guys can do that taller guys can’t,” he said. “Those are the kind of things I work on. I know I went into the indoor (facility) everyday just to work on those little things. I know those little things matter. In the game, it’s like, getting out of breaks or sinking my hips and getting out of my cuts. I thought about it as, ‘I don’t want the DB to beat me to my spot,’ so I was like ‘I got to work on this. It’s something I have to work on.’ Just seeing a lot of things that taller guys can’t do. I want to break that chain. I want to be able to do things, shift and all this kind of stuff.”

Tyler Scott: ‘I’ve never been a huge praise guy’

The Cincinnati speedster was asked if he would get the same thrill catching a touchdown pass as he would helping to spring a running back like Saquon Barkley for one.

“I think it’s pretty equal. That’s what we call touchdown block, you know what I’m saying?,” Scott said. “You get the same glory making a touchdown block that you do getting a 40 yard catch. So I think those two things are pretty just the same level as far as just praise is concerned.

“But I’ve never been a huge praise guy for me, especially at Cincinnati. My sophomore year I finally hit the scene and started and I kind of recognized what was around me and I had Alec Pierce, I had Jerome Ford. I had Desmond Ridder, I had Josh Wiley, I had so many good guys around me. I was a young guy and for me it was just understanding my role and understanding that it may not just be my time yet. And realizing that and being able to accept that. And so for me it was just being reliable whenever my name was called on or I had games last year, my sophomore year where it was one catch, one touchdown, that was all we needed from me. So like I said, I wasn’t a person that I’m about to go up there and say, man, I need more catches, more touches. At the end of the day I was on special teams heavy, made my contributions here and there when that was needed and ultimately made it successful.”

Jason Smith-Njigba: ‘I’m 100’

For weeks now, smith-Njigba has been the player most often selected for the Giants in mock drafts at No. 25.

“I just think my playmaking ability is second to none in this draft,” he said. “I see myself as a top-five player, not just receiver. I see myself as a top-five player in this draft, just being able to make plays and given the opportunities, you know, you throw me the ball seven to nine times, I can win you the game. And I think that speaks for itself.”

Smith-Njigba will not run the 40-yard dash on Saturday, though he said “I’m back. I’m ready. I’m 100,” when asked about the hamstring that plagued him throughout the 2022 season.

“I would say that I was 100 percent maybe like two weeks ago, just trying to take things very slowly, so I can you know close this book on this nagging hamstring or whatever,” he said. “Just wanting to take it slow, you know, so we can close the book, which I feel like I have. But just haven’t had enough reps in the 40 just yet. So pro day, you’ll see me.”